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EPA Issues Latest Information on Toxic Chemical Releases

Release Date: 03/20/2009
Contact Information: Donna Heron 215-814-5113, heron.donna@epa.gov

PHILADELPHIA - (March 20, 2009) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released today the 2007 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) which provides information on toxic chemicals used and released by utilities, refineries, chemical manufacturers, paper companies, and many other facilities across the nation. The TRI is compiled from industry data submitted to EPA and the States.

The 2007 TRI data indicate a small increase overall (1.9 percent) of 7.4 million pounds of on and off site chemical releases as compared with 2006. Releases in the mid-Atlantic region, which is comprised of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia, totaled 382.1 million pounds in 2006.

A total of 389.5 million pounds of chemicals were released on and off-site during 2007 to the air, water or landfills by facilities in the mid-Atlantic region.

When compared with the 2000 TRI data where 464.7 million pounds were released, the 2007 figures represent a 16.2 percent reduction (75.2 million pounds) in toxic pollutants released by facilities in the region. This was accomplished by process modifications, raw material substitution and pollution control equipment.

Today’s data include information on releases and other wastes from more than 650 chemicals and chemical compounds that companies are required to report under EPA's Toxic Release Inventory Program. The data include chemicals that were released at the company's facility and those transported to disposal facilities off site.

“The TRI is a valuable resource for citizens and government alike” said William T. Wisniewski, Acting EPA mid-Atlantic regional administrator. “Communities can use this type of data to begin dialogues with local facilities to encourage them to reduce emissions or develop pollution prevention plans; EPA and the states use the data to set priorities and allocate environmental protection resources to the most pressing problems."

The TRI has been credited with providing communities with valuable knowledge and encouraging facilities to reduce their releases of toxic chemicals into the environment through source reduction or pollution prevention measures.

In the mid-Atlantic region some chemical categories of TRI reporting are characterized as persistent bioaccumlative toxics, including lead and lead compounds, and mercury and mercury compounds. The lead and lead compound data for on and off-site releases show a decrease from 6.0 million pounds in 2006 to 5.6 million pounds in 2007. Since 2002 there has been a decrease from 8.9 million pounds to 5.6 million pounds. The mercury and mercury compound data show a decrease from 46,157 pounds in 2006 to 44,805 pounds in 2007. Since 2002, there has been a decrease from 57,643 pounds to 44,805 pounds in 2007. It is important to review the full data in context, since in many cases changes from one year to the next are less important than longer term trends.

The reporting of data to the TRI is required under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), passed in 1986. The TRI provides the amount, location, and type of releases to the environment B whether a pollutant is emitted into the air, discharged into the water, or released onto the land. It also includes information on waste shipped off-site for disposal or further treatment.

It is important to note that these chemical emissions are reported to EPA under the TRI and generally do not reflect illegal discharges of pollutants to the environment.

For more information on the TRI reporting change: http://www.epa.gov/tri. TRI 2007 Public Data Release: http://www.epa.gov/tri/tridata/tri07/index.htm.
TRI Explorer tool: http://www.epa.gov/triexplorer

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